Uncategorized

It’s been about 6 months since I’ve shared anything on here, but after traveling for a year, I discovered my love for writing and how healing the process is for me. Sharing my words, thoughts and feelings in an open way brings me more comfort than you could ever know. So here’s a bit about my absence and my inward journey of health since last fall.

Shortly after launching my coaching business in September 2016, I was laying down after doing a bit of yoga and noticed a lump in my lower abdomen. It felt like the size of a softball and was in the lower right side of stomach. I was kind of freaked out but also slightly awed that something this size could be there without my awareness. For the next couple of weeks, I fretted about what to do, since I didn’t have health insurance (and still do not). At this point it’s become a personal choice not to have insurance, but more on that later…

I decided to research some of my options, which turned out to be:

  1. Get a gap health insurance plan with huge deductible (like $10,000+) and then enroll in ObamaCare for 2017
  2. Go to a free clinic
  3. Ignore it and hope it went away

As much as I wanted to pick number three, I knew that this was serious. I wasn’t in any pain but this was not something you’d normally find in a healthy body.

Upon some more research, I found the Good Samaritan Free Health Care Clinic in Price Hill.

I was hesitant to go. I had a lot of resistance I felt with asking for help for free, coupled with the distrust I had in Western medicine.

I felt guilty about receiving something for free. I knew could rely on friends and family for financial support if I really needed it. And yes, I was capable of getting a full time job somewhere with health insurance, but I chose to pursue my own business (again). Some people don’t have these options, so it was a feeling that I was being selfish. I also had fears that if I went it would keep others from getting care that they most likely needed more than me. In short, I felt underserving of getting something for free. I am young, capable, talented and used to doing things myself, but eventually my ego gave up. I really did need help. This lump wasn’t disappearing and I had about $300 in my bank account.

So I drove to the clinic to register as a new patient, but wasn’t able to get an appointment for 3 weeks. After weeks of fretting, I calmed my nerves as much as possible and drove to the clinic. It was sunny, cool Saturday morning in early October. Arriving at the clinic was a humbling feeling, knowing that I was about to ask someone to help me for free. I knew that they would be offering me a lot more than I could offer them at the time.

As I walked into meet the nurse practitioner, I explained my symptoms to him, which was not much when it came to my abdomen. I had some some stomach issues in the previous months, for which I had been partaking in a parasite and candida cleanse. But I had been feeling that those issues were resolved. As the doctor came to meet me, we discussed my recent travels and as she did an abdominal exam, I could tell her concern was beginning to grow. The shear size of this lump and its protrusion from my belly was an abnormality that she felt needed urgent attention. So I did some blood work that day, put in request to have a CT scan, thanked the doctor and nurse for their helpfulness and went home.

I was trying my best to stay positive, the doctor had mentioned that maybe it was a tape worm in my large intestine. That seemed like something I could handle. However, the call I received from the doctor after my CT scan was not something I thought I’d be able to handle. I remember time slowing down as the woman on the phone explained to me that there was not just one, but two lumps, fibroids as she called them – one in my abdomen and one in my pelvis. Each one was about the size of a grapefruit. They were most likely connected to my ovaries but they couldn’t really tell from the scan. And just to be safe they set me up with an appointment to see an oncologist.

At that moment, it felt like the earth stopped moving, for my world definitely stopped moving. Tears started to stream down my face. She explained that they weren’t  sure that it was cancer but in the case that it was, then I’d be starting at the right place. I tried to say something, but nothing came out of my mouth. She asked if I wanted to come to the clinic to talk to a therapist. I instantly agreed. We set up a time for that afternoon.

When I hung up the phone, I just sat motionless. I definitely didn’t feel strong enough to go through this. I was just starting my coaching business, I was just getting adjusted to being back in Cincinnati, I was just starting to feel like I was finding my footing. And now this? I already felt out of place in my surroundings and now I was feeling out of place in my own body.

 

Read more here:

The Levels of Healing, Part 2

Hi friends!

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything on this little blog, so I thought it was time to share some updates. I’ve been spending most of my time in Pune although I did make a trip to the scenic hill station of Matheron to ring in the 2016. It was filled with gorgeous views and the sound of trotting horses, carrying people between the viewpoints.

matheron

Matheron

As for my time in Pune, it’s had it ups and downs that all existed mostly in my mind. I had lots of worries about my future surfacing since the start of 2016 that mostly had to do with my concerns of money and what the heck I was doing with my life. I know that I’ve followed my heart in my decision making up until this point, but at times my rational mind starts to freak out and say ‘that’s not possible’ or ‘that will never work’. I decided I needed a mental cleanse and put things on a pause so I could spend a week trying a new-to-me meditations at the Osho Mediation Resort.

I’ll fill you in on a bit on my experiences with mediation. My first exposure was when I was 17 years-old and taking a course on the psychology of sports for fast-pitch softball pitchers. The goal was to calm your mind and emotions to keep yourself balanced and focused during the pressure of gametime. However, the most impactful experience from this came a year later when I was trying to decide between a couple of very different options for college. I recall using the breathing and visualization techniques I had learned in the meditation class and then asking myself which was the best college for me before falling asleep. I woke in the morning full of energy and had an innate knowing that I should attend the University of Cincinnati for Design. I ran downstairs to tell my parents my news (much to their surprise) and it ended up being a great choice for me. This was the first instance I can remember using mediation as a tool to ask a question, then going within and simply let the answer float to the surface.

Fast forward to January 2014 and I was going through some extreme endings in my life – closing my business and ending my relationship – both of which had been staples for me for almost 5 years of my life. I decided that I wanted to try mediation again, but didn’t really know where to start. So what does a halfway tech-savvy millennial do? Look for an app, of course! And I luckily found Headspace! I was hooked from the first meditation. I loved the different techniques offered and the way Andy explained observing your thoughts. This was the first time I understood what it meant to be the ‘witness’ of your thoughts and that I was more than all the dialogue that was happening in my mind.

I tried all of the Headspace meditations I could and then decided I’d like to try just sitting in quiet on my own, which lead to some profound visualizations and clarity in my life. I remember often choosing to be late for work so I could spend more time in mediation. I saw my productivity increase and as well as my ability to remain alert during conversations instead of getting lost in my own thoughts. In essence, I was learning to be more present.

This lead me to look for other types of meditation, so I tried shamanic journeying and kundalini yoga, as well as various other healing modalities (but that’s for another post!). Both of these deepened my connection with my soul (or spirit or consciousness, if you prefer) through getting out of my rational mind and into the intuitive knowings that grow from deep with-in. They we’re both instrumental tools for me as I made the decision to buy a one-way flight to a foreign land in May of 2015, as that decision made absolutely no sense to my rational mind, but my heart fluttered every time I thought of it.

Sikkim

Sikkim Vipassana Center

Before arriving in India, I was told about Vipassana meditations and I knew instantly it was something I wanted to try. My first sitting (10-days in silence, with no reading or writing!) was in the jungle of Sikkim in June 2015 and pushed me to the limits of what I thought I was capable of. It’s a grueling schedule with mediations starting at 4:30am and ending at 9pm with breaks from breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea. I quite liked the focus on bringing more awareness to the connection between my mind and body. And again, some powerful knowings came my way, as did a 10-hour crying session, which released many of the fears I’d been carrying around about feeling unsafe in this world. By the end of it, I felt mostly just raw, exposed and couldn’t wait to dance 🙂 Restricting myself on the ways I most often connected to my soul – singing, dancing, writing, drawing- lead me to feeling disconnected and lost by the end of the experience. So I spent some extra time in Darjeeling, refueling myself before continuing on my travels.

I decided to try another Vipassana mediation in Kolkata in November 2015 to see if my experience would be different. It ended up being much more intense, as I had an extreme bout of diarrhea to which the mediation teachers said, “no medicine, just mediation”. I agreed wholeheartedly with this, but I also knew it was my task to find the types mediations that felt right for me and that one did not. I now incorporate certain aspects of the Vipassana technique to incorporate into my life, but also focus on activities that bring joy into my life.

So in February 2016 when I could feel my mind getting unbalanced, I took some advice from some lovely friends and tried 5 days at the Osho Mediation Center here in Pune. Although I don’t necessarily agree with all of Osho’s teachings or how he choose to use his influence in the world, I wanted to see what was drawing all the maroon-wearing Westerns to this lovely city. During the introduction morning the first activity was to dance and knew right then that I was in the right place for me! I had never experienced ‘active meditations’ before, but I loved each one I tried. Dancing, humming, laughing, whirling, breathing, jumping, shaking, and talking gibberish were just what I needed to clear my head. It was an opportunity for my rational mind to take a break and stop trying to ‘figure things out’. It gave me the chance to be so engrossed in the present that all my worries faded away and by the end of the 5 days, I felt an overwhelming sense of clarity and calm. Plus, I experienced so much happiness expressing my soul in this way that I observed myself grinning ear-to-ear during each meditation.

So now I’ve worked one silent meditation and one active mediation into my daily routine and I feel much more balanced, grounded and joyful. I’m always up for trying other types of meditation and I’m so grateful for the experiences I’ve had so far!

And if you’re looking to try mediation for the first time or try a new technique, I highly recommend:

  1. The Headspace app as an introduction to mindfulness mediation, plus anyone can commit to 10-minutes a day to start. And it has lots of options to continue on and try some different techniques.
  2. If you’re looking to go deeply inside, a Vipassana mediation is more than worth it and there are locations all over the world. It’s a big commitment, but you come to know how much you like (or dislike) being with yourself 😉 Plus it’s donation based!
  3. If you’ve tried a silent practice but can’t still for more than a couple minutes (trust me, I have those days too!), I highly recommend trying out some Osho mediations, which you can download for free here or head to Pune to stay at the resort. Also, there are instructional videos for each mediation here.

Thanks for following along! And more to come soon about what I’ve been creating in my time here that I can’t wait to share with you!

To give a little update of my adventure…. I flew back to the Ohio the end of September as my Indian visa was expiring. I applied for a new visa and arrived back in Mumbai the end of October. I spent some time in Pune, then Kolkata to sit for my second Vipassana mediation. Next I traveled to a small village in West Bengal to see handwoven fabric production and I’m currently in on the beach in Goa. 

The idea of age has never really mattered much to me, but as I sit here in a little shack looking out over the Arabian Sea on the coast of Goa, there is something that feels significant about turning 30 on this day. It feels like a milestone and a perfect time to reflect on my life, most specifically this last year, which has been my most transformative. At this time last year, I was on a train to New Mexico to explore a part of the U.S. that I’d never visited before. I didn’t know what to expect and things definitely did not go according to plan. (Sidenote- it’s hard to rent a car when your driver’s license expires on your birthday!) But it was during that trip that I learned to stop trying to control so much and to let things come as they will. It was also at this time that the thought of selling my belongings and heading to India really started to take shape. I had lots of fears about traveling alone in place I’d never been to and didn’t know a single person living there, but as I stuck with the idea, more and more things started to magically ‘work out’ to make this thought a reality. And now a year later, I’m living each day as it’s own mini-adventure, traveling in a beautifully exotic country, and learning more about myself each moment.

Goa, India

Goa, India

There are times recently that I feel like I’m not doing enough. I know it comes from my upbringing in the States or Western mindset you might say, and that’s one reason I’m so drawn to the culture here in India. Everywhere you look there are always people just hanging out, not doing anything, just being. This has been a whole new concept for me and one that I’ve gained more of an understanding through mediation. During this time of reflection, observation and not getting caught up in my thoughts gives me the opportunity to experience being human in a whole different way. I still face worries about the future and guilt from my past, but learning to observe these things as emotions I experience, instead of who I am, gives me space to breathe, relax and accept the current moment for what it is.

IMG_5807

I’m so grateful to those of you that encouraged me to follow this dream. I was overwhelmed with the amount of people that mentioned reading my blog while I was back in the U.S. And each person that has told me that they have found inspiration in my journey fuels me to keep going when I’m down or start to question what the heck am I doing with my life. I know I’ve been living a somewhat unconventional lifestyle for awhile now, but I’m proud to be doing it my way. To have the chance to carve my own path is something I’m so thankful for and on this day of starting this journey, I want to say a heartfelt thank you to my parents for their encouragement, support and sense of humor over the last 30 years. Thank you Mom & Dad for always having my back, I love you dearly!

I’m not sure what’s to come as far as looking for a place to settle down for a bit or what I’d like to do in terms of work, but I’ll be sure to share as things come together. All I know is that I’m so excited to continue to design, paint, draw, share my story here and start sharing others’ journeys as well. Thank you to everyone who has read my story or check my updates on Facebook. I can’t explain the amount of love I feel from all parts of this world and I’m so grateful to know and be surrounded by so many sweet, beautiful souls.